The Daily Record have learned nothing from their previous gaffe in which they allowed an IONista to dispense erroneous information about food. Not content with that previous free advertising for Patrick Holford’s subscription service, they now argue that
YOU can now take the guesswork out of getting healthy with a leading nutrition expert [Patrick Holford’s] new online programme and website…The huge benefit of this programme is it gives clear and practical advice based on the user’s relationship between what they eat, their lifestyle and their everyday symptoms.
Readers can judge for themselves if Holford can correctly be described as a “leading nutrition expert”. However, that aside, we would argue that things are inevitably more complex than this. Many factors are involved in health and happiness, and is always a strong element of chance – for example, a healthy lifestyle may not help if you are hit by a bus. The idea that one can reduce health and happiness to an answer produced by an online programme is hideously reductive and simplistic. Readers with a good memory may recall how much Patrick de [sic] Vinci Holford loathes reductionism, much as it uses it to sell his pills.
The Daily Record goes on to state that:
because the questionnaire and analysis are based on 20 years of nutritional therapy in clinical practice which has worked for thousands of others, users can be confident in the advice they are given.
Clearly, nutritional therapy has been used for some time. However, because of the poor scientific methodologies used in so much of the work done in this area, alternative nutrition has frequently failed to adequately test whether or not its treatments work. There is usually not even a good quality system in place for reporting the adverse effects of nutritional therapy, and there is often even a lack of good evidence regarding the safety (or otherwise) of the treatments used. Even where there is evidence that certain treatments are not helpful, alternative therapists are often extremely slow to change their practice to acknowledge this – or they fail to change their practice altogether.
The Record argues that Holford’s programme is a way of circumnavigating “conflicting media reports” – oddly, Holford is responsible for contributing to confusion is health reporting, see, e.g., his unsustainable criticism on the review of fish oils that reflects his own misunderstandings. However, the Daily Record’s own article seems to be nothing more than one of the many media reports on health which lacks a foundation in good evidence. Of course, if certain media outlets will report absurd claims without asking for appropriate evidence, alternative nutritionists can very effectively publicise such programmes without needing to show that they work. This does not make me happy.
Why can’t british media show some of the backbone of german media and demonstrate some responsibility for what it disseminates to its audience?